The scheduling committee keeps going back to their favorite – the big man / little man contest, and the matching records head to head. This portends a brutal final weekend as the rikishi are sorted into make/kachi-koshi piles for the winter.
For the best write up of what is at stake, and the story lines to date, read lksumo’s write up further down the page, or click here.
We know our “Man in foreign lands”, Josh, is somewhere in Kyushu, and we hope to hear first hand about the proceedings in the Fukuoka Kokusai Center, including the all important food truck report. Until then – on to day 12!
Hunt Group: Takakeisho, Shodai, Kagayaki
4 Matches Remain
What We Are Watching Day 12
Yago vs Daishoho – The broken hulk of Yago returns again to the top division for a visitor’s match. I have no idea what the roster of damage this man is burdened with while he tries to compete in Kyushu. Both rikishi are make-koshi, and both of them are in demotion danger.
Ishiura vs Kagayaki – As if to make up for the total stink-bomb for the first match, we get this gem. Kagayaki is already kachi-koshi, but I suspect he wants to run up the score (good for him). Ishiura has found a new level of genki this week, and I would love to see him give Kagayaki the business. This one is probably a highlight.
Terutsuyoshi vs Chiyotairyu – Lets keep the big / little contrast thread running, with this match between the surprisingly durable Terutsuyoshi squaring off against the massive, dreadnaught class Chiyotairyu. Speed vs power in this first ever fight between the two. It will probably come down to Chiyotairyu landing his massive cannonball tachiai or if Terutsuyoshi can duck or deflect it.
Daishomaru vs Shodai – Shodai is kachi-koshi, and I am curious to see if he eases up on the intensity. This will be a good indicator today, as he is probably capable of beating the rather un-genki Daishomaru if he puts his back into it. A Daishomaru loss today would nominate him to join his stable mate for a possible return to Juryo in January.
Kotoshogiku vs Nishikigi – Matching 3-8 records mean that this match might be a “decider” on which one will be more likely to be considered for demotion to Juryo. Sadly, Nishikigi has been make-koshi in every tournament this year. It’s a big gap between the Nishikigi who fought in the joi-jin, and actually recused himself well.
Shohozan vs Shimanoumi – Shohozan has an 0-2 record against Shimanoumi, and comes in with a 2 match losing streak. Is he fading out? I would not count on it. He is 2 wins away from kachi-koshi on his home turf, and I am looking for Shohozan to rally starting right now.
Chiyomaru vs Sadanoumi – Both Chiyomaru’s bulk and his 10-3 career record over Sadanoumi might indicate he is favored to win, Sadanoumi has been showing surprising strength and fighting spirit this November. The weakness? Most of Sadanoumi’s wins have come via a solid mawashi grip. Given Chiyomaru’s protective belly bulge, his mawashi is as unreachable as Aogashima.
Onosho vs Yutakayama – Oh good! Battle between two future power house rikishi. Yutakayama comes into this match with a superior level of genki, but Onosho holds the career advantage at 5-3. Both of these big guys are oshi-zumo practitioners, so I would expect a high degree forward power today. Yutakayama has the mobility advantage, Onosho a strength advantage.
Takanosho vs Enho – A first time match, we get to see power-pixie Enho face up to Takanosho, who is one win away from kachi-koshi. How far back from the shikiri-sen will Takanosho line up? Will Enho do one of his odd stand-up tachiais? Why am I asking so many questions? Does Tachiai know anything about sumo? What the hell is going on here?
Aoiyama vs Tsurugisho – Matching 5-6 records in this match once again clearly signal the intent of the scheduling committee to bring us a roster of 7-7 match ups on the final day. Tsurugisho is in the middle of a 3 match losing streak, Aoiyama is coming off of the “difficult” part of his schedule, and looking to get his final 3 wins. Both men have size and strength. Aoiyama will ring your bell if you are not careful, but Tsurugisho seems able to take more than a couple of sharp blows and stay in the fight.
Takarafuji vs Kotoeko – Matching 4-7 records (are you getting the theme here?). Loser is make-koshi, but will stay in the top division. Kotoeko has struggled to reach more than 8 wins for some time, though he displays flashes of good sumo.
Daieisho vs Kotoyuki – These two have an even 3-3 career record, and I think its going to come down to who gets the inside position at the tachiai. Both will try to overwhelm their opponent with a powerful volley of tsuppari within the first few seconds.
Myogiryu vs Okinoumi – This match is s show case of power and experience, with both of these veterans bring some fairly good form into this day 12 match. They have 22 matches over their long careers, with Okinoumi holding a thin 12-10 advantage. Both men are at 5-6 for Kyushu at the start of day 12.
Hokutofuji vs Meisei – Hokutofuji is now at the edge of make-koshi, which is a shame given some of his brilliant sumo this tournament. But he seems to go “all in” on some of his gambits, and somewhat less than 50% of them pay off. As a result, he fights like a mad man, but loses more than he wins. He’s great to watch, his attitude is excellent, and I think at some point he’s going to be a san’yaku regular. But I think his sumo needs at least 1 more step change to make it work.
Abi vs Tamawashi – Tamawashi had not shown us “his brand of sumo” much if at all this basho, until day 11 when he completely mastered Onosho. Abi faced a awkward match on day 11 as well, and I am hoping to seem them both clash in good form, with an abundance of energy.
Mitakeumi vs Asanoyama – Normally this would be a high-interest match, but Mitakeumi looks beaten right now. Can he rally? Sure he can. But Asanoyama has an edge today as he is strong, healthy and fighting well. He also is looking to keep 1 behind “The Boss” in the yusho race.
Takakeisho vs Ryuden – Ryuden has yet to take a single match from Takakeisho, and is one loss away from make-koshi. I expect him to fight with vigor, but right now Takakeisho seems to be fighting with renewed energy, in spite of his less than optimal left arm.
Endo vs Hakuho – So the assumption is that Hakuho will increase his 10-1 career advantage over Endo, and it’s a good assumption. But Endo is in rather good Endo-zumo form, and if he gets lucky, his excellent technique does present a narrow opening to surprise the Yokozuna. I assure you that should this happen, Japan would lose its mind with Endo fever. But I do think the one rikishi who has a chance against Hakuho is the sole surviving Ozeki, Takakeisho, who will likely face him in the final match of the tournament on Sunday.